Monday, January 18, 2010

The Saddest Sunday

When I was twelve years old, four black girls close to my age died in the basement of this church. They had been attending their Sunday school classes. Four years later I would take a part time job across the street as a telephone operator where I worked with several other high school girls who attended services at the 16th Street Baptist Church. From them, I heard several first hand accounts of the horror of Sunday, September 15, 1963. For a full account of the story click on the title. Be forewarned, the vocal of this ballad will haunt you for a long time.

(On the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963)

"Oh Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?"

"No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren't good for a little child."

"But, mother, I won't be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free."

"No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children's choir."

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair,
And bathed rose petal sweet,
And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
And white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know that her child
Was in the sacred place,
But that smile was the last smile
To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
Then lifted out a shoe.
"O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
But, baby, where are you?"

Written by Dudley Randall (1914-2000)


My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

thanks so much for sharing this

more later


Anonymous said...

Oh dear that was the saddest day. There are a lot of sad, sad days in our world. I pray daily that peace with find it's way to the heart of every one someday.

Queen "B" said...

very sad story, it is a time to count our blessings and pray for peace and hope,
Aloha wishes from across the sea

Derrick said...

Hello FireLight,

A sad day yes, and the world still keeps on having them whether in Haiti, Afghanistan or any place else.

Sandra said...

So much horror and wickedness we do to each other and all in the name of "love". How does God's great heart stand us?

willow said...

Bigotry of any kind is wicked beyond measure. A sad, sad day, indeed.

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat